The Hooker Valley Walk

Adventure Inspiration Mini Break

Our guide to the Mount Cook Hooker Valley Track and one of the best short walks in New Zealand.

Just a few hours’ drive from Christchurch is an opportunity to experience one of the very best short walks in New Zealand.  Welcome to Mount Cook National Park and The Hooker Valley Track.  Awesome mountain scenery that was once the training ground for Sir Edmund Hilary’s Mount Everest ascent, is the landscape that walkers of all abilities can enjoy.  

As you enter the breathakingly beautiful Mount Cook Village, surrounded by towering mountain peaks, follow the sign for ‘Hooker Valley Road’ and continue along until you reach the White Horse Hill Campground and car park.  This is the start of the track.

The 5.5 kilometre walk takes approximately 90 minutes and offers eye-catching views of Mueller Glacier, Hooker Lake and Aoraki/Mount Cook.  It’s no surprise these views are so popular on Instagram.   Just remember to allow at least 3 hours in your schedule as you’ll be returning back along the same track.

The track passes through the sacred Tōpuni area of the Hooker Valley, which has special meaning and values to Ngāi Tahu iwi, towards Aoraki/Mount Cook.  Along the track you’ll pass over three swing bridges.  The first bridge offers panoramic views over Mueller Lake - listen carefully and you may even hear the distant rumbling of avalanches from Mount Sefton and spot them crashing into the Mueller Glacier below.

Once over the Hooker River, the track traverses between  old moraine ridges and humps.  Upon reaching the second swing bridge, the landscape shifts to more open tussock and a wider valley floor.  The third and final swing bridge leads to the East Hooker and the source of the Hooker River.

The track reaches and end with an incredible view of the Hooker Lake with its water sprinkled with icebergs. It’s quite a sight to behold, weith the lake framed by Aoraki/Mount Cook and the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.

The best time to walk is early morning when, weather permitting, you can see the first rays of the sun creeping over the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mount Cook. It's also a quieter time so you'll only be sharing with a few other hikers. 

Hooker Valley Track - Need To Know:
 
  • Distance: 5.50 kms / 11km return
  • Time needed:  3 Hours return
  • The region experiences fast changes in weather so take warm, layered clothing  including a water/windproof jacket, a hat and gloves.
  • Take sunscreen and plenty of water. 
  • Wear suitable footwear - trainers/trailrunners, hiking shoes.
  • The nearest towns are Aoraki Mt Cook village (2km), Twizel (56km) and Tekapo (96km).

Where To Stay
 
The main hotel in Mount Cook Village is the Hermitage Hotel which also features the Sir Edmund Hilary Museum and offers a range of activities. (Glacier Boat Tours, 4WD Tour, Stargazing Planetarium). Close to the hotel is the Aoraki/Mount Cook Motel. We can personally recommend these options having stayed in both.

For campervan, motorhome and campers, there are 60 non-powered spaces at the White Horse Hill Campground. Bookings are required.  Further out and with more accommodation options, are the towns of Tekapo and Twizel.  It’s around 45 minutes’ drive from Twizel and 90 minutes from Tekapo.

Hooker Valley Track Photos

Check our gallery below for more photos of this incredible walk.